The Fijian Drua have hung on for a 24-17 win over Moana Pasifika in Lautoka.

It was a pair of returning stars for Mick Byrne’s side that proved the difference and Taniela Rakuro and Isaiah Armstrong-Ravula secured their place in the top eight.

Rakuro opened the scoring in the first 90 seconds of the game after backing up a break from powerhouse centre Iosefi Masi.

Masi powered through three defenders before drawing the fullback for his winger to beat the covering defender and score under the posts.

The Drua found themselves down to 14 when Mesake Doge was yellow carded for a high shot.

However, young playmaker Armstrong-Ravula calmed the hosts and slotted a timely penalty.

It allowed them to control the game and eventually struck right before the break when Selestino Ravutaumada chipped for himself and had just enough pace to touch it down.

This gave the Drua a 17-0 lead into the break before Moana Pasifika centre Henry Taefu opened their scoring in the 47th minute, put on the attack by a break from Lotu Inisi.

In a tense second half, Taefu capitalised on a brutal hit from Viliami Fine to score right before the ball went dead.

Rakuro answered back for the Drua to restore the lead before two late tries gave Moana Pasifika hope.

Sione Havili Talitui and Sama Malolo scored within the space of four minutes to put the visitors within striking distance.

Ultimately, the Drua were buoyed on their home support and closed out a crucial win to rebound after last week’s disappointment against the Hurricanes.

It’s a crucial win for the Drua before their two-week trip to Australia to face the Brumbies and Force.

As for the visitors, they will head to Tonga to face the Highlanders in Nuku Ľalofa.

It will be their first game in Tonga since their inception and looms as crucial towards their finals hopes as they sit in eighth for the current moment, with the winner of Highlanders-Force potentially knocking them out of the eight.

Fijian Drua 24 (TRIES: Rakuro 2, Ravutaumada; CONS: Armstrong-Ravula 3; PENS: Armstrong-Ravula) def Moana Pasifika 17 (TRIES: Taefu, Havili, Malolo; CONS: Leali'ifano)

DRUA (1-15): Haereiti Hetet, Zuriel Togiatama, Mesake Doge, Isoa Nasilasila, Leone Rotuisolia, Etonia Waga, Kitione Salawa, Meli Derenalagi (c), Peni Matawalu, Isaiah Armstrong-Ravula, Taniela Rakuro, Apisalome Vota, Iosefo Masi, Selestino Ravutaumada, Ilaisa Droasese

RESERVES: Mesu Dolokoto, Livai Natave, Samu Tawake, Mesake Vocevoce, Vilive Miramira, Elia Canakaivata, Simione Kuruvoli, Michael Naitokani

PASIFIKA (1-15): Abraham Pole, Samiuela Moli, Sione Mafileo, Tom Savage, Allan Craig, Irie Papuni, Jacob Norris, Sione Havili Talitui (c), Ereatara Enari, William Havili, Fine Inisi, Julian Savea, Henry Taefu. Viliami Fine, Danny Toala

RESERVES: Sama Malolo, Sateki Latu, Sekope Kepu, Ola Tauelangi, Lotu Inisi, Jonathan Taumateine, Christian Lealiifano, Neria Fomai

Referee: Graham Cooper

Assistant Referees: George Myers, James Palmer